I co-founded a startup company called Aptivada. We work closely with TV stations, radio stations, and other media outlets to help them quickly grow their social presence. Our apps, tools, and media-specific consulting drives exciting results.
We send a LOT of the same e-mails every day for customer service, sales, and marketing.
ToutApp helps us work smarter, and much faster by providing a suite of tools and features to make sending e-mails better.
We use ToutApp's templates to save time on the daily hours that we were using to write the same type of email over and over again. One of our favorite features is being able to track opens and clicks. This helps us know who we need to follow up with or send another email to. ToutApp is also very simple and easy to implement. Everything ties in easily to Gmail and Outlook. If you're not using ToutApp for your startup or business, you should check them out.
You can get in touch with Creighton through Twitter: @creightongreen
Every other week, we'll profile a different person who uses our app to improve their email productivity. If you would like to be featured in the future, you can apply here.
First of all, Happy 4th of July. Although we have users using Tout all over the world, we are based in San Francisco, so we decided to take the day off and spend time with our families and friends and appreciate all that this country has to offer.
Nevertheless, for a small upstart like us, there's never enough downtime. So naturally, I woke up this morning and decided to check up on how our systems were performing and how the emails were being delivered.
The first thing I look at is our Tout Happiness Command Center. It aggregates all pertinent details about our business and puts the most important thing up-front -- the number of emails being touted over the past 72 hours across our different integrations (which includes Gmail, Outlook, iOS, CRMs and our own web-based app).
Although we saw a bit of a spike early Wednesday morning (our customers outside of the United States ), you'll see that email creation dropped down to near weekend levels as the day progressed.
This got me thinking...
Is the 4th of July pretty much a dead period of Sales Emails?
So, I decided to dig into the data. Writing emails was one thing, but with ToutApp, you're also able to see and track whether people are engaging with the emails you've sent (we track views and clicks in real time).
The first thing I looked into was the number of "Email Open" events we were detecting across our system and across all of our users. I first looked at Tuesday to see if people started to engage less with your emails when leading into a holiday.
As the graph shows, No! People were opening just as many emails the day before 4th of July (by and large) as the past 16 or so Tuesdays before it.
Then, I decided to take a look at Wednesday. Since its still about Noon PST over here, I decided to compare to the past 16 or so Wednesdays but only looking at data for the number of hours that has passed into today.
Surprisingly enough, while there has been slightly less views today than previous Wednesdays, its not wildly off. More importantly, the engagement stats don't represent nearly as high of a drop off for the 4th of July holidays that the send stats do.
So, Are Sales People lazy? Are they missing out on an opportunity to get their message across during 4th of July?
Seeing that people were clearly viewing emails, it bugged me that our customers weren't logged into Tout and sending out emails to their prospects. Were our customers missing out on a great opportunity to get up top on the Inbox?
So I decided to take a closer look at the Email Send traffic going through Tout adjusted for user growth to get a relative measure:
Now if you've been paying attention, you'll know why I got confused here. It looked like very few people were logged in, but we were infact sending a ton of emails out! So then, I ran one more query -- which made me one incredibly proud Founder:
Turns out, both were correct.There were very few people "actually working on Tout" but a significant number of our customers were smart enough to make sure Tout continued to work for them even though they were out of the office. Tout customers went in and scheduled a number of emails to be sent throughout 4th of July.
So there you have your answer, you should send sales emails during 4th of July -- here are the conclusions:
While people may be at barbecues, fireworks, etc at 4th of July, righ talong with posting their Twitter and Facebook updates, they are continually engaging with their Inbox.
4th of July is still a great time to continue to move your sales process forward. You may not close deals, but you can most certainly make first contact, grow awareness or move forward in the process.
- And lastly, you yourself don't have to be stuck in the office to keep things moving forward. Put automation into place, schedule your emails with Tout.
Are you using ToutApp for your sales, business development and business emails yet?
We loved this blog post from user WC Bracken, so we've reposted it here for our users to check out. Read on to learn more about how he uses Tout as part of his daily workflow:
I am somewhat of a data nerd when it comes to tracking my sales efforts over time. While much has been said recently about tracking outcomes verse actions in the sales process, I still believe in monitoring my own actions to see where I might be succeeding and where I might be falling down.
Recently, I have been using a new tool to help manage and track my emails called Tout. Tout allows you to create templated emails and track results. This is great for those common emails you send multiple times a day. So far, the best use case for me has been in sending follow-up emails to left voice mails. So, let me detail my process and show you my results.
Creating a Follow-up Email
Let’s say you have identified a new prospect and are ready for the full court press. No matter how long you have been in sales, you know there is an argument between the leave a voice mail camp and the never leave a voice mail camp. I personally fall into the leave a voice mail camp, but with a caveat. The reason I leave voice mails is because I have had plenty of call backs from those voice mails. Pretty simple equation in my head.
But, the caveat to leaving voice mails is that I try to make it easy on my prospect to respond to me by sending a follow-up email as well. Over time, I have found that a simple follow-up email performs considerably better than leaving a voice mail without the email or no voice mail at all. Also, I have found that it is critical to send a simple email – long and detailed email follow-ups are almost never read or responded.
What do I mean by a “simple” email? I mean direct, to the point, and showing that I have value to add. Here is an example template I use for news that a company is opening a new office in my area:
Subject: Following-up on my recent call
I wanted to quickly follow-up on the voice mail I just left you (I know responding to email can sometimes be easier). I saw that your company is opening a new office in _____ and wanted to share with you some of the successes we have had working with companies like yours to address large scale hiring ramps while controlling costs. By the way – did you know ___ County has tax incentives available for companies that provide training for entry level positions?
Would you be available for a brief introductory call on Thursday?
In this example, the email is short (3 sentences – although it could be shorter), timely (recent news announcement), shows value (communicates our expertise by mentioning the little known tax incentives in the area), and asks for a specific follow-up time (Thursday). Combined with leaving a voice mail, this is an effective way to show that I am on top of my prospect’s recent news and that I have some information of potential value. Also, by sending the follow-up email, I am showing respect for my prospects time (as email is in fact sometimes easier).
Sending Follow-up Emails via Tout
The key to this process is making it as seamless and easy to do as possible so that you (or your sales reps) will actually do it! This is where Tout comes in to play. Tout is a web app that allows you to create templates, send emails and track results. It ties into Salesforce, Highrise and other CRMs, allowing you to keep all of your information in one place as well. Here is the Tout intro video:
The first step is creating an email template. To create a template, you log into to Tout and click the green plus button and name the template. Click on Content and Edit to write your template.
Remember to keep it direct and to show value. You can also attach a document (such as a sell sheet or brochure), but I have had less success with attachments. The great thing about the Tout templates is they retain the “handwritten” look. No stylized email templates here…just plain, easy to read text. Once you are ready, save the template and off you go!
As I said earlier, Tout ties into several CRMs or Gmail or Google Apps, making it easy to select a template and send. This really speeds up the process if you are working prospects out of Salesforce for instance. Upon leaving a voice mail for a prospect, you simply select the follow-up email either out of Gmail, through your CRM, or on the Tout site itself. Either way, that’s it, you are moving on to the next one!
Tracking Email Results
You will hopefully begin to see responses on your emails almost immediately, but it is critical to have more than just anecdotal evidence and Tout has you covered here as well. You can track the number of times your emails have been viewed or click throughs (if you included a link to your web site for instance) in the web app or in your CRM. This is great for testing two competing emails against each other as well (i.e. one shorter than the other or different subject lines).
Since implementing Tout, my follow-up email view rate is about 40% with about 12% responding. Simply put, sending email follow-ups to my voice mails blows away my callback rate on voicemails alone (about 2-4%). Obviously, this is dependent on what you are selling and who you are marketing to as well.
My experience strongly suggests that using a combination of voice mails and emails leads to a better response rate than calls, voice mails or emails alone. I also found that using a tool designed to make it easier to send the follow-up emails created discipline in my process and allowed me to track results.
Have you tried a similar process? What are your results with voice mails and emails?
For any company, communicating with your customer base is essential. It can also be very frustrating.
I see this daily with some of our users, whether they’re emailing prospects, current customers, or even potential new employers. Someone will write to us claiming that their Tout analytics aren’t working because no one’s opened the emails they sent. I check and, yes, their emails have been sent. It’s just that no one has opened or responded to them.
All too often, this has to do with the email itself, and I get to tell them: Okay, everything on our end seems to be fine. But maybe your messaging isn’t working?
Here’s 4 common trends I’ve noticed in their communications and also in my own emails:
1) Your tone is too formal.
How would you write an email to your best friend? A sibling? Parent? Got that in your head?
Now think about how you’d write an email to a current customer or prospect.
If these two scenarios are entirely different, I urge you to reconsider your tone. No one wants to be addressed as “Dear Sir or Madam.” In fact, I’d argue that tone makes emails seem grossly automated rather than appropriately deferential. Keep it casual, keep it light, and keep in mind you’re a human talking to other humans.
2) Your email is too long.
No matter what you’re saying to your customers, it should not take two pages of text to say it. So if you find yourself saying the same thing over and over again in an email, stop. Eliminate redundancy. And move on.
If you feel yourself getting particularly verbose in your writing, more often than not you’ll likely need to take a step back and assess how to best cut down on your extra words.
3) You’ve got large blocks of text.
I’ve separated this blog entry into different items so that you’re not staring at a huge page of text with no breaks. Try to do something similar by breaking paragraphs often or making lists:
- Put yourself in the mind of the customer
- Create a process for them to follow
- Order this so that you are providing an organized breakdown of a list for them
Also, don’t forget to bold important pieces of content so they don’t get lost.
4) You’ve forgotten a call to action.
What are you trying to get your customer to do? It’s important to make this call to action pretty clear from the start and crystal clear at the end. Signing off on your emails with a “Just wanted to say hi....”, a “give me a call if,” or similar is a weak call to action that requires too much effort to act on.
Instead, ask your customers if 12pm on Tuesday works for a call to talk to them. Send them a link to a relevant article. Offer them a special deal or a walkthrough of your product. Include tracking links (we generate these automatically when you send emails through our service) so you can see how well each of your calls to action work.
I hope this helps! What other tactics have you found to increase engagement through your communications?
In case you hadn't noticed, we rolled out an entirely new interface for Tout pretty recently. Beyond the basic facelift, we’ve made some major product improvements and introduced some cool new functionality.
Here’s three ways to use our product’s new features:
1. Group your contacts
Within our release, we’ve made it much, much easier to organize and categorize your contacts into groups to avoid an unwieldy address book. You can now add multiple contacts to groups and drag and drop an individual contact into a group. With this, you can also use mail merge to send large batches of personalized emails.
2. Personalize your emails with tons of dynamic fields
Sometimes first name, last name, and company aren’t enough information to personalize your emails. If you want to reference a contact’s website, phone number, account type, or more using custom fields, we’re now able to automatically input this information for each contact.
Special bonus for anyone using Salesforce: we’ll import all the custom fields you’ve created so you can use them in Tout as well.
3. Look through your email history with a contact
Can’t remember what you said to a customer in an old email? You can now pull up your entire history of communication with each contact in Tout. There’s no need to switch between your mail client and your CRM to pull up your email history, or search through your entire Tout outbox.
Bonus: Use social media to strengthen connections
There are links to Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin in each contact’s tab now, so it’s easier than ever to do due diligence on your message recipients. If your future recipient is tweeting about their weekend, now you can ask them how it was in your messages. Bam. There’s your social selling strategy.
Take some time to look over all our new features and let us know what you think!